William Isaac Thomas
Luther Lee Bernard
I think I had heard less about Professor Thomas than any of the other teachers of sociology at the University of Chicago before entering that institution in 1907. Since his field was primitive culture and folk psychology and I was supposed to specialize in social theory, his courses had not been emphasized to me. Yet I found his courses very attractive and in some ways more in conformity with my major interests than any other.
Of course I was much interested in his personality. Young and eager as I was, I looked forward to seeing the teachers as well as to the content of their courses. All my life the personalities of men have had as great significance for me as have their theories, and I believe this is a just view of things. After all, theories are like other, more material garments, which men put on and off much like their woven and fashioned clothes. Theoretically his theories are a man's guide to behavior, but more often perhaps the theories, like physical clothes, are selected for and by the occasion and made to serve the adjustment ends of the moment, the day, or the time and his purpose in general. A sincere, honest, and well informed and well disposed personality is worth more than almost any body of theory. Clothes and theories do make the man, but very superficially. The man underneath is the prime essential.
Professor Small was formal, urbane, reserved, and not wholly frank in his attitudes. Perhaps one should say that he gave the impression of being constantly on his guard. Vincent was frank, natural, but always la conic and hurried, but friendly. Henderson was stilted, almost antagonistic, as if afraid some one would impose upon him or penetrate his outer defenses of assumed omnipotence. But Thomas was very open, leisurely, almost confiding, enthusiastic, and a bit open to flattery. If any member of the sociology faculty could be loved it was surely Thomas, as Vincent was the one most likely to be respected.
Thomas' teaching methods were nothing short of a puzzle. You had the title of his course, and you could predict its content according to the preconceptions you might possess of the meaning of the phraseology. Whether the lecture content conformed to these preconceptions was a matter of perennial speculation on the part of his students. In fact, the course was likely to be half or three-fourths through before the average student gained any very clear notion of its logic. But by the end of the course most students had a fairly well-integrated conception of his argument as well as of the evidence used to support it.
He was accustomed to come to class with a handful of notes on yellowish paper, which he read, one after another, interspersing comments of his own. The notes were his supporting data for theses or principles which were not always announced, or were mentioned very incidentally. The notes were nearly always interesting and were generally taken from the literature of ethnology and travel. He did not disregard contemporary data, but quite obviously he depended chiefly on evidence from primitive life. This emphasis was not difficult to explain in his case. He had approached sociology through a student of Spencer and had gradually evolved from Spencer to the later culture historians. But when I first knew him his admiration for Spencer still lingered, although his faith in his data and in his methods had rather markedly declined.
Thomas was essentially a very timid man, with considerable of an inferiority feeling. My first view of him was in the classroom, where some thirty students were present to hear his. lectures in his introductory course on primitive culture. Perhaps half or two-fifths of us were graduate students. A man of some forty-five years of age, already rather gray but with a florid, almost sensual face and slightly obese body, loosely covered with a coarse gray baggy suit set off by a colorful shirt and tie, and a rounded head thinly covered with close cropped hair arose and almost in a monotone began to talk in a bored manner. He drew some sort of simple diagram on the blackboard to illustrate the lines of emphasis he expected to pursue. What he said was by no means startlingly lucid and he added nothing to it by geniality of expression. What a contrast in personality to Vincent, whose every word and motion of body and face was revelatory of enthusiasm and helpful to the comprehension !
But before the hour was over there was more warmth in Thomas' manner and by the end of the course there wore many indications of positive enthusiasm. His manner as a teacher was always quiet, and the soft and subdued tones of his personality gradually endeared him to his students. In those days we were perhaps more intrigued by the details of primitive life than at present, because we knew less about them.
It would perhaps be somewhat exaggerated to say that Thomas was at that time very much interested in his teaching. Perhaps also he was no more enthusiastic about research. His notes always gave me the impression of being interesting bits taken from somewhat desultory reading and thrown together rather loosely to illustrate principles scarcely better integrated in his own mind. The idea got around that his primary interest was with golf and he was known to have invented a successful golf ball. At that time, and for some years after, he seems to have been associating with a rather fast set who hung out at nearby country clubs and golf courses. Most of his contemporary illustrations were taken from the field of golf theory and practice. It was also said that he drank rather constantly, if not heavily, and his features showed many signs of excessive living.
The chief philosophic and scientific emphases of Thomas teaching were not numerous . He was particularly interested in the greater importance of environment over biological heredity in shaping character and social events. He was especially intrigued by invention as a social technique and frequently referred to his invention of the golf ball (without claiming it as his own) by way of illustration. Out of these two major themes, and their ramifications, he could construct a course — in fact all of his courses — watered and supported by his seemingly inexhaustible cases drawn chiefly from primitive peoples. I always felt that his chief interest in primitive culture and folk psychology was the personal appeal of the primitive and its artistic implications. All of his courses had about the same philosophic and scientific frame work in so far as it could be made to stand out from the somewhat confused mass of his illustrations. I do not believe that the half dozen courses I subsequently took with him added anything essential to the first one, except to intensify and clarify the rather hazy notions I gained from him the first quarter. I think most of his students obtained more from him than they realized. In that day of emphasis upon the biological interpretation of society and upon the instinct theory his evidence in favor of an environmental interpretation was determinative of the outlook of his students in a greater degree than they realized, with his inadequate organization of teaching.
Once he told us the story of his evolution as a sociologist, the object of the story being to illustrate the significance of changing environment forces on changing development. He said that altogether he had spent about eight years as a sort of savage wandering over the native hills in Western Virginia "toting" a gun in search of wild game. Then his father, a backwoods preacher, moved to Knoxville to educate his children. In this way he obtained a high school education, but had expected to go no further in an academic way. But circumstances again decreed a change. One day at the county fair, while waiting for the horse races to begin, the town bully, being under the influence of liquor, walked up and down in front of the bleachers issuing a challenge to all comers to fight. Thomas was now in his late teens and his pride would not suffer him ,to disregard the challenge, so that he got down off the bleachers and laid out the bully after a fierce fight. This performance greatly excited the admiration of a local banker who congratulated him on the spot, and called him a bright young man and asked if he was not intending to enter the university that fall. Thomas confessed that he lacked funds for that purpose and the banker generously offered to lend him the necessary money, saying that any one who could fight that well should have a good education.
Evidently he did well in college, for he was offered an instructorship in modern languages at the end of his four years. In due course he went to Europe to improve himself in certain aspects of these languages and there he came in contact with the modern dramatists. This species of writing had just discovered modern social- problems as a basis for their emphasis upon the problem drama. Thus Thomas made in this indirect way his first academic. contact with modern social problems, and perhaps also with folklore and culture history. Returning to the United States he went to Oberlin college (at this the Thomas was much interested in the ideals for which Oberlin stood) as professor of English. But his mind was far too active and penetrating to be satisfied with a merely literary approach to social problems and folklore. Consequently he seized upon the opportunity to apply for a fellowship in sociology at the newly established University of Chicago and became connected with that institution about 1893. There he remained until his retirement from the University in 1917 [editors note: 1918]. Here his evolution of sociological inserest ended so far as content was concerned, but he continued to grow in critical ability and in intensified knowledge of his subject. This was the situation when I found him somewhat bored by all of it some fourteen or fifteen years later when I entered the University.
I have spoken of the somewhat disorganized condition in which I found him in 1907. I have no definite information as to what led to this condition, but there are some indications aril these I shall set down as best I can. When I saw Dr. Ellwood in the summer of 1908 and reported to him some of the teachings of the men in these department as they were now, after a period of nearly ten years since he was a student under the same men, he was most surprised by the teachings of Professor Thomas. Thomas was now all but openly sanctioning freer family and sex relations, prophesying that some women would in the near future dare to embark openly upon the venture of having children without tying themselves down in marriage, and openly criticizing traditional and current views regarding the vices. Dr. Ellwood averred that this did not sound like Thomas, who, in his own graduate student days, had been a strong defender of conventional views on sex, the family, and morals.
Thomas had married a beautiful and impressive southern woman of decidedly individualistic outlook and had apparently been greatly devoted to her. But as her children grew into their teens she became more and more interested in the social and club life of the city and he had turned to golf and men's clubs. It was openly rumored that they did not get along very well, the rumors penetrating even to the student body. If there was at that time any other woman in the case this fact did not reach me. Years after I heard from Thomas' own lips that these years were for him a period of great restlessness. He spent his summers wandering far and wide. One summer, about this time, he travelled on foot from the Netherlands, across Germany well into Russia and back again. Arriving in London with only a few dollars and a return ticket to the United States, he spent most of his safety fund on a walking stick which struck his fancy. This sort of improvidence seems to have clung to him throughout his life. All the sociological world knows of the tragic ending of this growing period of disorganization and restlessness which ended in his retirement from the University of Chicago just ten years after I first entered his classes.
One more word in this connection should perhaps be recorded here. I was told on good authority that the Federal Secret Service which secured the reputed facts that ended his professorial career was not aiming at silencing him so much as his wife. If Thomas himself held any views on the conduct of the war, which we had then entered, or about war in general, I never heard of his expressing them. But his wife was an active pacifist who joined with Jane Addams and others in public propaganda activities. The government wished to silence these women and the weakest spot they could find in the armor of Mrs. Thomas was her husband's position in the University. Having secured his removal they effectually eliminated her from the number of the opposers of armed intervention. She accompanied Thomas to New York. I believe it was about $18,000 he secured for the copyright to his books published by the University of Chicago Press, but this sum was soon spent and in a few years they were in great need of funds. These were years in which Thomas became still further disorganized. Mrs. Thomas secured a divorce and went to live with a physician son in Chicago. Thomas continued in a semi-bohemian life in rooming houses on the outskirts of the night club life of the city. He was able to add something to his means of support by doing most of the work on Old World Traits Transplanted which was prepared under the nominal authorship of Robert E. Park and H. A. Miller and by doing other odd jobs. It was in this period also that he published his The Unadjusted Girl(1923). One of his close associates at this time was George A. Dorsey, an anthropologist who had suffered much the same fate as Thomas and who later achieved economic solvency through his Why We Behave Like Human Beings.
But I have gone ahead of my story . I wish first to speak of some of my personal contacts with Professor Thomas. I cannot say that they were intimate before the middle of my first year at the university. I was by no means aggressive in his class. Now and then I asked a question for clarification or perhaps objected to his interpretation. Once, I recall, I argued a point — that of the so-called supremacy of the Greek over modern civilization — and he came back the following day to say I was right and he brought some evidence of his own in favor of modern culture. But I doubt if I made a very great impression upon him in my first quarter. I was very poor and my clothes were by no means prepossessing. Also, I lacked something of that savoir faire that is so real an advantage to its possessor :hen dealing with others. I was practically incapable of flattery, even of the highly indirect variety, unless one can call admiration and loyalty true flattery.
There was, however, in the class two other persons — both graduate students — who probably made much stronger, or at least more favorable , impressions upon him. One of these was a young instructor in English from Mt. Holyoke College, Frances Fenton by name. I doubt if he considered her to be of very great intellectual weight, but she had much tact of a kind, although somewhat stiff and dignified in her attitude of protecting her self-importance. The questions she raised in class were for the most part obviously intended to lay some claim to participation and were usually trivial. The only point she seemed to press with ardor was the contention — that the motive of women in wearing unduly expensive or competitive dress of any kind was the "pure love of beauty" and not the desire to exploit or to raise status in competition. To this he appeared to agree in direct opposition to his previous contention. But I had no doubt that, he perceived clearly that her argument was psychologically self-contradictory.
The other student of whom he took particular notice was a young Roumanian Jew, mentioned elsewhere in this volume. Handman was a devotee of the opera rather than of sociology, to which he gave almost no time outside cf class. He was often absent from the lecture. But he was a past master in salesmanship, the object to be sold in this case being himself. The only art he neglected —and this was an important art — was that of providing himself with credible evidences of interest and information in his major subject. Instead, he used every art of direct and indirect flattery, studied the personality of his teacher and brought his strongest artillery to bear upon the fortress of Thomas' self-esteem.
What all three of us had in mind was the securing of the senior fellowship in sociology for the following year. This was the only fellowship in the department of sufficient size to pay all the expenses of the student. Both Handman and I were totally dependent upon such support, Miss Fenton had wealthy relatives — a half brother among others — but she desired to be independent. I rather believe Handman had at one time the inside track on me, but in some way he lost it and I was given he fellowship. While the decision was still pending I had written to Ross at Wisconsin to enquire as to possibilities there and the reply was so reassuring that I went to Thomas to ask his support in applying at Wisconsin in case I was not to be appointed at Chicago, assuming that he would know whether I was to be selected Chicago. He asked. me to wait a day or two before replying to Ross and at the expiration of that time he assured me that I should not need to apply at Wisconsin. I still consider it to be significant that it was to Thomas rather than to Small, Henderson, or Vincent that I went for a decision at that time. Thomas delighted in the importance of managing a matter of that sort and my semi-conviction that I had made a strong impression on him seemed to be justifiable.
When Miss Fenton, with whom I had rather close associations, heard that the senior fellowship would probably go to me she made up her mind not to take a doctorate in sociology but to return to the teaching of English at Mt. Holyoke. I not only persuaded her to remain at Chicago, but I did something better for her. I told Thomas of her decision and argued that she held more promise than most of the graduate students then in residence and as a result he again held consultations with his colleagues and she was awarded the fellowship second in importance, carrying a stipend of $320. Fellowships were not very large in those days, the senior fellowship itself totaling only $520, from which $120 had to be deducted for tuition. these incidents will show the truly democratic personality of Professor Thomas as well as the sympathetic qualities of his nature.
The following year, I was under his direct supervision in the performance of one of my several duties as senior fellow. Thomas had charge of the student work on the American Journal of Sociology, which consisted chiefly in making bibliography and abstracting articles from the journals. This part of the work he managed through me and I in turn distributed it to the other graduate students holding stipends and did some of it myself. It was not an easy job. I had to tell some of the students what to do in the greatest detail and some would do almost nothing as long as I did not report them. Thomas wished me to get results without bringing cases before him and this I endeavored to do, but not wholly successfully. In addition, Prof. Small gave me a large job to do after the Christmas holidays, the investigation of the teaching of sociology in the United States. I had to make my own schedules, collect the data and prepare the report, which was completed and published under the final supervision of Thomas in the following September. The department got full value out of me that year for my senior fellowship, largely perhaps because I was working under more than one master.
My contacts with Thomas throughout the three years of my residence at Chicago were an the whole very pleasant. I found him to be the most approachable of my teachers, although Vincent really did more for' me in a voluntary financial way, if Thomas' instrumentality in arranging the fellowship for me be excepted. Even when Small at the end of the second year was on the verge of playing the undercover politics with the: history department which I have described in my reminiscences of him, Thomas again came to the rescue and forced a retreat with the result that Miss Fenton, rather than the Fellow in History, was taken care of. Although a skilful politician in his way he more than any of the other teachers probably had the interests of the department at heart.
The relationship between him and myself, although never explicit in these connections, nevertheless was close and effective. But they always preserved the conventional isolation between teacher and student which I would no more wittingly have broken down than he. It was he who clarified to me the attitudes of the teachers of the department when, acting for the Sociology club, I requested a meeting of the Club with each teaching member of the department in order that there might be helpful discussion between them of those professional problems which confronted the graduate students as future teachers. He said that Small had seemed surprised but had acceded. Henderson had been indignant that students would presume to interfere with his splendid isolation. Vincent had refused to be bored. Thomas himself was unwilling to meet the whole group but said he would be glad to see me personally at any time at his apartment. I tried in vain to make him realize that we were not asking for social courtesies but for professional advice, and in the manner most convenient for him — in a group instead of individually. I gave up and of course I never took advantage of his invitation to call at his apartment, since it was not personal recognition in a social way which I had been seeking.
On another occasion he supplied me with information concerning certain attitudes of his colleagues. In my reminiscences of Professors Small and Henderson I have referred to the fact that these two men somewhat resented the fact that I did not give to them blind acquiescence in my views on theory — Professor Henderson openly and angrily and Professor Small more subtly and diplomatically, but none the less definitely at the time. Smarting somewhat under these marks of disapproval and from the fact that I had found it necessary to secure my own position unaided by these men after it became clear that I was not a disciple, and partly in the interest of the department, to which I was very loyal, and of future graduate students, I had made some rather obvious criticisms of the department when I left it to go to my first position. I had made these criticisms in the most friendly way and quite apologetically, really believing that all but Henderson would appreciate an objective viewpoint from a friend and beneficiary of the department. Small wrote me that he did appreciate it and that he wished everyone who went out would leave such a document behind. But later Thomas gave me to understand that I could expect but little help from the other members of the department after that. He said Small was somewhat undemocratic and that he was not likely to say just what he thought. He reported that Henderson had been very angry, in spite of his supposed Christian calm, and had passed the letter (which Small had circulated) on to Vincent with a notation in the margin to the effect. that Vincent should take his medicine as he had taken his. Thomas, who was never on very friendly terms with Vincent, did not know how Vincent received the criticism and suggestions. As for himself, Thomas said, he thought the criticisms of the department were very well taken, but he would make this suggestion to me, that a young man starting out on his career could hardly say anything unpleasant to men in official positions, however generous his motives or true his statements. I pondered this a good deal, but perhaps did not profit sufficiently from it.
From time to time I had some correspondence with Thomas as I was slowly climbing the ladder of university positions between 1911 and 1917, when he left Chicago. Within the limits of his rather inert character he was as considerate of my needs as he could well' be. I never asked anything very especial from him, but I believe he never failed to reply to my question or request that I sent to him, and on the whole promptly. After his academic misstep in 1917 these contacts became almost negligible, until I heard that he was in some distress. In the fall of 1925, when I was at Cornell University, and the American Sociological Society meetings were being held in New York in December, I took a couple of young instructors — Wirth and Harvey Zorbaugh, I think they were — with me to his room in an old building on Fifth Avenue near the Public Library to invite him to attend the annual dinner of Alpha Zeta honor fraternity of Chicago and to be initiated into the fraternity that evening.
At first he was embarrassed to see me and two young instructors from the University of Chicago, but we soon put him at his ease. His room was fitted with all sorts of things, including bedding and furniture in the utmost confusion, cooking apparatus by no means perfect in sanitary condition, clothing scattered about, books, research notes, and the ingredients of liquor which he informed us he was an expert at making. It was evident from his rather unrestrained conversation that he at least liked his liquor and had a generous acquaintance with it. As soon as he comprehended the nature of our mission he acceded enthusiastically, and even asked to bring his friend Dorsey. He turned up at the appointed place for the dinner to which he was invited, even more obviously fortified by his liquors against the disagreeable weather of the season.
He was of course the chief guest of the evening and he proved to a highly interesting one. He reviewed his whole later career for us, omitting his recent months or years of stress. There is not room here for all of the stories he told us, and perhaps it would not be proper to repeat some of them, but his account of how he came to do the Polish Peasant should not be lost, partly mythical as it may well be. He said that along about 1910 or 1911 he was pretty well "fed up₤ with his teaching (I have already referred to his boredom which I had observed as early as 1907) and he was eager for a long vacation in Europe. Consequently, he looked around for a research project and a patron which would enable him to have his vacation. He had long contemplated the desirability of studying some of the emigrant peoples in their European backgrounds and in their reaction to their new environment after they came to the United States. He accordingly worked out a plan of study along these lines.
He was a rather frequent visitor at Hull House in those days and one evening while there he took occasion to talk about his project to Mrs. Dummer. She was interested and offered him $10,000 to carry out the project. But, he said, that was not enough. He wished to stay in Europe the larger part of five years and he held out for $50,000 which sum he eventually obtained. He went first to Vienna and there, in close contact with the Freudians, he worked out his theory of the four wishes to use as a theoretical background for his investigation. Proceeding to Poland, where he hoped to make his study, he met Znaniecki, a Polish journalist, who understood English and employed him as his assistant to translate the letters of Polish immigrants to the home papers in Poland. He said that most of the work was actually done by Znaniecki and out of gratitude and to the surprise of Znaniecki he had given him joint authorship. It was then that we learned that he had sold his publication interests to the University of Chicago Press for something like $18,000.
As we went down town in the subway that night he was less exuberant and more thoughtful and remarked, in a conversation about Professor Small, that he doubted if Small always realized his motives. And then he added that he was doubtful if any one did, and that he was sure that he himself did not always do so.
He said he often did things that he could not account for rationally afterwards. I supposed he had some reference to his rather unrestrained behavior of that evening, but I did not ask.
Seeing how much he was set up by the welcome we had given him, I suggested that I should be pleased to assist him to get back in a teaching position. But he maintained rather strenuously that he did not want a teaching position, that he preferred his present mode of life. This I doubted, but I did not press the matter.
Learning that I intended to leave for Argentina in February on a research grant, he at once declared that he would go with me. I was somewhat surprised by this sudden decision and asked him what problem he proposed to investigate. He replied that he was interested in Child Welfare and had a grant from the Social Science Research Council for that purpose and that he was not tied down to any particular place in carrying cut his investigations. However, his enthusiasm for Argentina and for my company did not carry through to the point of departure. He made his study in the United States with the assistance of Dorothy Thomas, whom he later married.
Even before these events in December I had started a campaign among some of the middle group of approximately my own age in the American, Sociological Society for the election of Thomas to the presidency of the American Sociological Society. I was extremely busy at Cornell, having to get my book on Social Psychology started through the press and about one hundred pages in each of three other books ready before starting for Argentina. But I managed to organize sentiment for his election and pledged several of his former students to work toward that end. The result was that at the meetings of December, 1926 he was elected president. I never hinted to him that I was taking this action and I do not know when or through whom he became cognizant of the fact. In fact, neither of us ever mentioned the campaign.
But when I was back teaching at the University of Chicago the spring Quarter of 1927 he came to the University, and sought me out and told me enthusiastically that I was the first person he was consulting about his program and that I could have any place on the Society's program for the following December which I might desire. I said I was not asking any place, but should be pleased to take whatever part he might assign to me, if any. He then offered me the chairmanship of the Division on Social Psychology, which I accepted. But after some reflection I said, "I am sure that if I have that section Professor Faris is will be very jealous and will find some means of punishing me. Suppose you see Prof. Faris and if it is quite evident that he wants this chairmanship let him have it and I shall be content with a paper on the program, or with nothing at all if that suits better your convenience." Later he reported that Faris did feel that he was entitled to the chairmanship, that that he had specified to Faris that I was to have a paper on the program. The paper I worked out proved to be too long for the program and I published it in the Psychological Review and substituted another on magic for the sociology program.
Again I had little contact with Professor Thomas until I was myself elected president of the American Sociological Society in 1932. He seems to have been in sympathy with a group of persons in the association that was seeking to get control of the organization more or less in their own interests and at the instigation of the clique that now controlled the Social Science Research Council. I had led a revolt against this group in the interest of the democratic control of the Sociological Society and for the preservation of its autonomy. Thomas came on to the meetings, which were held in Cincinnati, whether for thepurpose of seeing what he could do to turn the tide in the direction of the Research Council's inside control or merely for the purpose of observing the struggle I do not know. He was at that time in the pay of the Research Council and it may well have been the former purpose which motivated him. However, he remarked to me during the meeting that I had the Society "sewn up in a bag." We succeeded in protecting the Society against its would-be captors.
Here is perhaps the place to say something more about Thomas as a politician. I mean of course a politician of the limited organization on type suggested above. It has been asserted that he was Small's henchman and go-between when Giddings, Small and Ross controlled the Society. His genial, sympathetic nature caused him to be peculiarly successful in winning over persons to the support of a program or a candidacy which required some persuasion. There was a period of years occupying the larger part of the 1920's and the 1930's when he was a powerful factor in the affairs of the Social Science Research Council and when he did much to determine its research program and policies. I have always believed that my refusal to fall in with the Research Council's domination of the American Sociological Society did much to separate Thomas and myself. Although we remained on friendly terms in general, he did not especially seek intimacies with men from whom he could not control or get something he wanted.
Following my move to rehabilitate Thomas he became somewhat of a cult during the later nineteen-twenties on the part of a group of men of approximately my own age. Those men had either studied with him or had known him in some other connection. They not only helped to elect him president of the American Sociological Society, but some of them utilized his good natured appreciation as a stepping-stone to the attainment of their own ends. One of these in particular, who knew Thomas less well than the rest of us, maneuvered himself into a fairly conspicuous position of advantage. His name was Kimball Young, a grandson of Brigham Young. Several of us conceived the idea of publishing a volume of essays on Social Attitudes in honor of Thomas, largely to stimulate greater interest and appreciation of his work and bring him further out of the limbo into which he had sunk. This volume was published in 1930. Its preparation had not gone very far when Kimball Young assumed charge of its editing without any apparent backing from any one. Yet no one opposed him. It seemed to be the impression that Young hoped to secure the help of Thomas in finding a position in one of the big universities. Somewhat later Young was taken on at the University of Wisconsin, where he remained a number of years.
Another enthusiastic promoter of Thomas was a book man by the name of Thomson who was at that time head of the educational department of Alfred Knopf. He was perhaps already in the early stages of the disease which later ended his career. His personality was so little attractive that he never succeeded in securing any widely used text books. The most successful he obtained were two by Kimball Young. This publisher's representative went up and down the country singing the praises of Thomas, tartly because of a genuine admiration for his romantic life and personality, and especially in those places where he thought the mention of Thomas/ name and the appearance of intimacy with him would make a favorable impression upon prospective authors of good books.
When I attempt to compare Thomas with other persons about whom I have written in this book I am at a loss to find his counterpart, He was brought up in much the same sort of atmosphere as Veblen, but he did not corm under the same influences to the same degree and in the same order of succession. He branched off the parent stem of nineteenth century liberalism in the direction of culture and folk sociology as did Veblen, but he departed from Veblen in the direction of a psychosocial interest as much as Veblen varied toward an economic emphasis. Both were strong individualists in spite of their marked collectivist sympathies. Veblen was much nearer to philosophic anarchism in theory, but both found practical social regimentation equally distasteful. In the matter of obvious personality traits these two men differed greatly. Thomas was, in spite of his inferiority feeling, as outgoing as Veblen was inverted. He was genial, cordial, sympathetic, even self-sacrificing upon occasion. If Veblen was any of these it was among his closest associates. He took rather than gave of himself personally, although he gave freely of himself intellectually through objective channels. Thomas was perhaps even more a giver than a taker, both personally and institutionally, although he could by no means be called a philanthropist or consciously an altruist. Both were the product of nineteenth century liberalism and enlightenment and individualism. Herein for the most part lay their weaknesses as well as their strength. But both were remarkable men of their type.